FT Top 100 Films
70: THE FIFTH ELEMENT
Anthony Easton Says:
Its a beautiful film, one of those sound and furies that signify nothing, i am not even sure it has a plot or even that the plot matters–its a series of sci fi set pieces, some of them ripped off from his previous work and the rest of them ripped off from everywhere else. It doesn’t matter, though because its a haunting and fantastic spectacle. The Krsna Blue Alien singing Lucia D’Lamour like Callas, Chris Tucker as drag queen, the butch saviour that is Bruce Willis, Mila Jovovich mute and pining, Jetson style yellow cabs, and Gary Oldman as villain, dressed as if the Bauhaus designed Ming the Merciless. Who cares of its vapidness when it entertains so well.
Pete Baran says:
Science fiction film is too American. The banalities built up from the future of that shared culture still exist in Luc Besson’s New York sequences here. But the rest of space is a much more continental vision. The mere fact that the most popular singer in the Universe is an opera singer underlines this. Elsewhere there are visions out of Moebius. None of this makes The Fifth Element any good of course, but at least it dresses its nonsense up in a differently beautiful way.
Besson based the script on screeplay he wrote when he was in high school. You don’t imagine watching it that it changed all that much. The naive simplicity of the initial concept (there is a fifth element and it is love) seems out of date in a modern action movie. And yet The Fifth Element stradles a number of interesting intersections. Bruce Willis redefining his image as bald action hero. The whole gaudy colourfulness of the film. Extreme violence versus a hippy peace and love philosophy. Perhaps Chris Tucker’s turn completely blows the film out of the water, but it is an amazing piece of campery and worth the admission alone (as some might say is Milla Jovovitch’s minimalist dress). Only in a European film could the hero and villain never meet. The Fifth Element might only be laudable for its difference, but that makes it interesting enough. It bangs to a slightly different drum, which is still a pretty lousy drum, but it makes a change.